STARKE, Fla. – The man accused of shooting two women and a 4-year-old girl in Times Square over the weekend has seven days to consult with a public defender before he faces extradition to New York to face attempted murder charges against him, a Bradford County judge said Thursday after Farrakhan Muhammad’s first appearance in court.
Muhammad, 31, was arrested while eating lunch at a McDonald’s in Starke on Wednesday after a nationwide manhunt. The U.S. Marshals Service reached out to the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office for help after learning their suspect had ties to the area.
Muhammad will be held without bond until a hearing next Thursday.
Muhammad is not shy around cameras. During an interview inside the jail he told WCJB-TV in Gainesville that he still doesn’t understand what’s going on. He also told the reporter he was not in New York City at the time of the shooting and talked about his arrest Wednesday at the McDonald’s in Starke.
“We went over, the reason we was by the McDonald’s was we went to go check out an apartment. There was a home over there we was trying to buy. There was a Confederate flag up there. He said no women could stay there. That is why we didn’t get it,” Muhammad said. “We parked by McDonald’s so we could eat McDonald’s real quick and that’s what happened.”
Pictures sent to News4Jax show his arrest outside of that same McDonald’s. Kristine Vergara, believed to be his girlfriend, was with him at the time. She is also inside the Bradford County jail and is charged with second-degree accessory after the fact.
In court, Vergara confirmed that her mother lives in Jacksonville and she had traveled with Muhammad hoping to prevent his arrest.
The judge set a $500,000 bond for Vergara, also appointed a court-appointed lawyer for her, and ordered that she and Muhammad have no contact.
“Essentially the only thing that they are going to do in the extradition hearing is, 1) figure out, “Do we have the right person here.’ Look at the transfer of paperwork, review all of that for accuracy,” attorney Latoya Williams Shelton, who is not affiliated with this case. “If the demand and everything is proper, then they’re going to continue to hold him and wait for pick up from the demanding state.”
Detectives from New York City questioned Muhammad Wednesday night and were in the courthouse Thursday for his first appearance hearing. The Sheriff’s Office continues processing evidence from an SUV they believe Muhammad and Vergara were traveling in.
Police said three bystanders were hit by bullets shortly before 5 p.m. Saturday near West 44th Street and Seventh Avenue in Times Square in New York City.
Wendy Magrinat, a 23-year-old tourist visiting from Rhode Island, was shot in the leg. A 43-year-old woman from New Jersey was shot in the foot. The 4-year-old girl, from Brooklyn, was also shot in the leg.
New York police said Muhammad’s brother was the intended target of the shooting. There’s no word yet on the exact motive, but detectives said both men were CD vendors in the neighborhood.
Customers at the McDonald’s on U.S. 301 in Starke are thankful deputies caught Muhammad
“I’m relieved he’s off the street because it could happen anywhere,” one person told News4Jax. “Thinking, ‘It’s a small town, oh, there’s nobody there, let me get through. They don’t do nothing in small towns.’ Well, wise up. Small town, they got you!”